The Gorilla Manager’s Survival Guide to Going Agile

“What do you mean I have to wait until the end of the sprint for a report?”

John gave a nod. “Uh huh, when we do the Sprint Review we’ll be have the Feature burn down charts, as well as demos of what’s been built and a report on any technical impediments.”

“But that’s not until the end of next week, I need to brief the VP on where Project Myrmidon stands.”

John looked truly apologetic. “I don’t have anything to report until the sprint is over. You’ve got the reports for the last two sprints and you know what we committed to for this sprint. Until we’re done, I can’t compile the external report. I’d just being making up a report right now, is that what you want?”

I sighed. “No, of course not.” In reality I did want him to make something up. I didn’t want to tell the VP he had to wait another week and a half to get his status report. The VP was scary and I didn’t like explaining to him why he had to wait for anything, even if it was the way the process worked. He was the kind of guy who didn’t want to wait for anything. He would say jump and expected you to phone him from orbit to ask if that was a high enough jump.

“Need anything else?” John’s question cut into my self misery. He was standing patiently in front of my desk. When I looked up at him he said, “Remember, I need to leave early today?”

I waved at him, “Oh, right. Go ahead.” John left me alone with my thoughts. This was the fourth time in two weeks he’s left early. I wondered if anything is wrong.

“He’s taking a Community Emergency Response training class. He wants to be more active in the community.” Hogarth’s deep voice cut through my thoughts and derailed the train I’d been on. The gorilla lumbered into the room, pausing only briefly to snap a branch off my fichus before he continued on to perch in the sun drenched window ledge.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

Hogarth shook his head, “Gorilla secret. Besides you’d know to if you were paying as much attention to your team as you do to your precious status reports.”

I glared at Hogarth. “What do you mean? I see my people every day. I know what’s going on with every project and where all the risks are. How can you say I’m not paying attention?” I waved out the door, “Heck the real problem is this damned agile roll out. Ever since it got going I have no idea what’s going on. Jake and I were just complaining about it over lunch. We don’t have the same control we used to, it’s driving us mad.”

“And yet you don’t know that Molly is engaged, Max at war with IT and John was taking CERT training.”

I blinked at Hogarth. “You mean I, like, have to talk to them ?” I felt a cold shudder run down my spine at the very thought of it.

Hogarth pointed the denuded fichus branch in my direction. “Let me ask you this. What reports to you, projects or people ?”

I stared at him like he’d just grown a second head. “What kind of question is that? Of course I have people reporting to me…” I closed my mouth with a snap.

“Oh…”

 

Good Managers make for Good Agile

Management has been the butt of jokes, derision and scorn pretty much since some Mesopotamian chieftain delegated a cattle raid to his incompetent son while briefing his best warrior to keep his son out of danger and really get the job done. For the butt of all the jokes it has been, Management has also been where many of the worlds greatest leaders have risen from. The Duke of Marlborough, the Duke of Wellington, General/ President Charles de Gaulle and General/President Dwight Eisenhower all came out of “middle management” positions and went on to help change the face of the world for their time.

Whether you love or hate management, whether you think agile/ lean will do away with management, the reality is right now management is still a pervasive part of our world. This means some fairly important things.

– Adoption of new ways of doing business is going to be a lot more successful with management support.
– Managers need to learn how to work in the agile/lean world.
– The previous two bullets are inexorably linked together.

In short, managers need to learn how to work with their people again. It is through helping the team that we will all succeed. Stop focusing on the work and focus on the people doing the work. Through this can managers become a key to making a better world.

Psst… That was the passionate call to action part.

Okay, great speech. Rah, rah, rah. But speeches don’t make change.

No, no they don’t. Which means you actually have to do something.

And now for the practical tools to rise to the call.

Enter Manager Tools
Manger Tools is a website, a series of podcasts and a very dedicated group of people. When I look back on how I made the shift from drone worker to change agent and leader I can point to two defining moments. One was taking a CSM course and finally “getting” agile. The other was discovering the Manager Tools podcasts.

Focused on the principles of being effective and giving actionable advice, the Manager Tools podcasts have helped me put my career on track, to be a better manager and I think to be a better person. The principles and lessons of Manager Tools helped to form my own personal belief that if you help individuals be more effective, they will help make a better team. A better team makes for a better project and a better project makes for a better product. Better products will lead to better businesses and I businesses built on these foundations will help lead us to a better world.

Now with over 500 podcasts, years of blog posts, and a huge community forum it can be daunting to know where to start. Fortunately, Manager Tools has this covered. I also have some additional MT podcasts that I highly recommend as critical must listens.

The Manager Tools Trinity:
In true Douglas Adams fashion, the trinity is made up of four components. It really did start out as a trinity at one time. Coaching became part of the mix a few years back and I think these days the people at Manager Tools tend to refer to this as the “basics.” One thing basic about them, is how basic it is to pick them up and start using them. For ease of listening, Manager Tools has bundled around 20 podcasts into a special “Manager Tools Basic” feed. It contains their core starting points, including the Trinity (all four parts).

 

One on Ones: Two key secrets sauces at play here. 1- Meeting with your directs once a week, like clockwork. If there is a conflict, reschedule. Do everything you can to hold it. 2- The format is ten, ten, ten. The first ten minutes is the direct talking about whatever they want. The second ten is the manager asking questions he wants answers to. The last ten minutes are to future development. Project Managers- You can use O3s as well. It just takes a couple of minor changes to make it a perfect meeting for working with your project team.

The Feedback Model: The Manager Tool’s Feedback is a lot like a one shot agile retrospective. It allows the manager to identify behaviors (good and bad) and provide a response to that behaviors impact. The most powerful part of the Feedback Model is it doesn’t look to correct what has happened. Like a good retrospective, feedback is looking forward to how things can be done better in the future. Encouragement, not punishment. Project Managers- There is a modified version of this that can work with your project team.

Delegating: We’re terrible at delegating. We don’t do it well. We often delegate the wrong things. We often (very often) don’t let go when we delegate. In short, we end up strung out over a massive string of responsibilities and create all sorts of problems, not the least of which is being a single point of failure. Let us not forget the great Dilbert wisdom of “If you make yourself irreplaceable you will never get promoted.”

Coaching: Yes, that’s right, managers should be coaches to the people on their teams. Mark Hortsman, of Manager Tools, says that one of the greatest signs of a successful manager is that he gets his people promoted. Helping your team grow, learn and prosper is a vital part to being a good manager. And like good coaches, the goal is not to lead or drive them there, it is to make the possibilities possible.

Jump Starting Internal Customer Relationships : This two part podcast is a must listen for anyone joining a new company, new department or new project. This is one of my first go to actions when brought in on a failing project. Few would argue against syncing up with your stakeholders. The Internal Customer Interview process takes this to the next level by giving you a standardized format and set of questions to ask all your stakeholders. Through the repetition of the same questions you create quantitative view of the situation.

The DISC Model in action: DISC is a quadrant based behavioral model. Having used it for several years now I can attest to it being a model that actually works as opposed to being a money maker for “specialists” who come in to “fix” your organization. You can get a full assessment online for about $30. Manager Tools has over thirty podcasts devoted to interacting with people based on the DISC system. Hands down this has been one of the most valuable tools I’ve picked up from Manager-Tools.

 

In conclusion, this is one series of podcasts that is worth going back to episode one and listening to them all. It didn’t just help my career, it gave it purpose.

Better people, better projects, better world.

The Gorilla Wigwam- Single Tasking in a multi-threaded world

I was buried in the depths of a presentation. Elbow deep in the slide formats I was completely engrossed and entirely focused. I didn’t even have my email running, I’d put my work phone on “do not disturb” and turned the ringer off on my cell phone. I used to think I could multi-task and that I was good at it. Going agile had proved to me just how delusional I had been. So now a days I focused. Whether it was working with the scrum team or working on something not part of our agile project, I still gave it total focus. One task at a time, no more no less.

Now if only the desk would stop shaking, it was starting to get… “Whoa!”  I reached out just in time to catch my cell phone before it vibrated off the desk. As I put it back on the desk I saw a string of text messages on the notification screen.

And my heart dropped… The texts were from my wife. I was supposed to pick up the kids from camp. I was supposed to leave for an early lunch, pick them up and drop them off at home. It was 1:00 PM.

I bolted from my office and sprinted for the elevator. Careening into the elevator I nearly bounced off Hogarth. My gorilla was learning against the wall and gave me a jovial smile as he said, “What floor?”

“Hogarth, it’s a two story building!”

Nodding, he pressed the button and leaned back. “You know.”

“Oh, boy”. I thought. “here comes the lesson.”

“That reminds me of a joke”

I blinked, but Hogarth just continued on.

“Doc, you gotta help me. I’m having an identity crisis. I keep having these alternating, recurring dreams. First I’m a teepee, then I’m a wigwam, then I’m a teepee again. Am I going crazy?” Hogarth leaned back letting his voice take on a mock Freudian tone. “It ees very seemple, you are two tents.”

I glared at Hogarth, hoping my eyes would suddenly develop heat vision and I could make him disappear in a flash of light. “Other than being a terrible joke, is there a point to it?”

Hogarth nodded, “Yes, yes there is. Single tasking is fine, you just have to remember that your inputs come from many places. How are you going to make that all work?”

Wow, he asked me a straight forward question. I don’t think he’s ever asked me a straight forward…

Hey! That’s a hard question.

 

How to Single Task in a multi-threaded world

I’m a list man. I have to be. I know that if I don’t write it down, then it never happened. If my wife didn’t have one of the best memories I’ve ever known, I’d probably have forgotten something really important by now (eating, sleeping, you know important stuff).  I’ve learned to be successful by making sure to always have something I can capture my To Dos on. It used to be a pocket notebook and a pencil. Today it’s my trusty iPhone and the free Kanban style product Trello (works best in the Chrome browser).

With Trello I not only have the ability to quickly access my task board, I can have multiple task boards. This is great! I have a Home task board that my wife has access to. She can add “Honey Dos” to the list anytime. And she’s not distracted by the Work task board that has all the things I need to do for my day job. And I keep my own personal task board separate from all that. This allows me to prioritize “fix the screen door” against “clean out the closet” without getting distracted by “Create Wiki milestone schedule for the program team.”

So now I’m a lot better. I never “forget” anything, it all goes on a list and I have that list where ever I go. I have my work board, my home board, my personal /professional board and I even have boards for my Hogarth Book (in process) and I make ones for special events (I had an SFAgile2012 board for everything I wanted to follow up on after the conference).

The problem is not getting things done when they need to be done. I’m at work and looking at my work task board all day. Then I get home and remember I was supposed to call the electrician so the stove could get fixed. Whoops! I had it on my Home Task Board, I just never looked at it during the day. I was so focused on my project called “work” that the project called “home” suffered.

Multi-Tasking Myth, Multi-Tasking Reality

I don’t think anyone that reads this blog is going to argue that multi-tasking is a good thing. The evidence stacking up against multi-tasking grows every single day. Anyone who has spent any time in the Lean/Agile community has probably played one of the many multi-tasking games. The ones that show just how hard it is to do multiple things at one.

For those that haven’t, try this really quick exercise.  Get yourself a sheet of blank paper and a pen. Bring up http://www.online-stopwatch.com/. Set the time for 20 seconds. Now see how many numbers, starting with 1, you can write in 20 seconds. Repeat this with the Alphabet. Okay good job. Now comes the fun part. Set the timer for 20 seconds again and do both numbers and letters at the same time (1A2B3C4D, etc). See how much you can get done and compare it to doing numbers and letters by themselves.

So now that we are all on the same page an in agreement (Even if you’re not, just smile and nod, we don’t make the gorilla angry, do we?), lets toss a little cold water of reality on things.

Yes, we all agree multi-tasking is bad. We want focus on a single task until it is done and we also want all the tasks we do to be part of the same project. That’s what we want. I don’t know about the rest of you, I’m getting used to not getting what I want. Let us just look at a normal “work day.” The average work day is somewhere between six and ten hours long (I said average, work with me here). Then the average sleep period is six to eight hours. You’re left with, on average, another eight hours. So right here your day is divided into three projects, work, sleep and “everything else.” Even these can’t always be contagious. Maybe during lunch today I need to run out and register my son for a Lego Stop Motion film making camp. So already I’m bouncing between projects just by waking up and going through this thing we call life.

Even if my day job has only one project and I can focus on one task at a time, I still have to juggle work against the rest of the twenty four hours in the day and all the other responsibilities and priorities I have.

Augh!!!!! You’re not helping!

Okay, sorry. I can see this is making your blood pressure go up just thinking about it all. I can tell you my blood pressure was suffering for a while there. Trello meant I didn’t lose anything I had to do. Unfortunately it meant I just kept getting a bigger and bigger list of things I forgot to do because I was busy doing something else.

My solution may seem a little odd. Trust me, it works. I made another board. There is real value in keeping my work task separate from my home tasks. The problem is there is only one of me and I have to do it all. So I made a board called “Weekly Kanban.”

“Iteration Planning”: At the start of every week, I go through the backlog on all my active boards (Work, Home, Personal, and any short term boards). If it is something that needs to get done this week, I move it to the Weekly board. Everything has an estimate of effort (Fibonacci number scale) After I have all the stuff that has to be done I look at the backlogs and move over any thing else I think I can get done in the week. I take from the top of each backlog when I do this. When I’m done with me week planning, I have a single backlog of rank ordered items. I can end up with “Create the Phase Gate slide deck, Go to the Dentist, write my blog, write the weekly status report.”

“Daily Grooming”: Everyday I look at the rank ordered list and tweak it based on the day.  Obviously home things tend to be done on home hours and work done on work however. Still it gives me flexibility. I know I’m more creative in the morning, so I might write my blog then and work on making the power point slides and status report in the evening.

“Work In Progress Limits”: I control my work in progress as well. This is a little softer than you might see in strict Kanban. I only ever work on one single task at a time. However, I might have up to four items in my Doing column. This is because some things are “in process” or “waiting for outside.” For example, this week I had “File expense report” in the doing column for three days. My boss was out of the office and I wasn’t going to put it into Done until my boss had signed the report. Normally I try not to let my WIP grow to more than one active and three pending tasks. If I have four tasks in doing, I do my damndest to clear one of those out before going t o a new task.

That’s how I single task in a multi-task world. Each “project” has its own backlog. At the start of each iteration I make a unified iteration backlog. Everyday I groom the rank order based on priority and time of day. And finally, I limit my WIP to only one active item at a time. Finally, at the end of every week, I archive the Done board. That way I can see what I’ve accomplished over time. Really important when it comes to review time (and yes, you can have review time at home too).

 

And yes, I schedule time to read blogs. Some folks write really long blogs and you need to schedule the time. 🙂

 

Gorilla McPhee and the Groundhog

You know the nice thing about banging your head on the desk?

It feels so good when you stop…

And some days that is enough to look forward to. Days like today, launch day. The day we put our best face on and release into the wild the product we’d been working on for the last eighteen months.

You know the old joke about products? “Products don’t launch, they escape.” Well our product overpowered the prison guards and stole a tank to bust out. And I was left sitting in my office with that horrid déjà vu feeling of having done all of this before.

Because we had, on the last release.

The authentication database locked up after a hundred logins, just like last time. The servers couldn’t handle the traffic load of a major part of our user base logging in at the same time, just like last time. I could go on, only my head was getting sore and it really didn’t matter. Oh, sure, we’d improved the build process, getting down to twenty-four hours from build to completed tests. Other than that, though, we had made almost the exact same mistakes as last time and as certain as the sun comes up we would make most of them again.

This was all like some bad metaphor, I just wasn’t sure which one.

“Ground Hog Day”

“Wha?” I looked up to see Hogarth filling my doorway. “Hogarth, what do you need?”

My gorilla lumbered into the room and took a seat on the ground next to my fichus tree. With a contented sigh, he leaned back against the wall and helped himself to a branch from the fichus. Finally he looked up at me and said, “You were looking for a metaphor to describe your problem with déjà vu, I was suggesting Ground Hog Day.” He held up a finger, ” The movie not the actual day.” His teeth stripped a piece of bark from the fichus branch before he continued, “Every time Bill Murray went through his day, he learned something. Eventually he even started improving things.”

Hogarth gave a wave towards the hallway and the other offices. “Stop trying fix everything all at once, it won’t ever happen. Pick one thing, and fix it. Then repeat the process again and again.”

“Augh!!!” I threw my hands up in the air. Had I any real hair to speak of, I’d probably have been yanking it out of my head right then. “Am I ever going to be rid of you? Am I doomed to a life of moral correctness being delivered to me by an 800 pound gorilla?”

Hogarth folded his hands over his belly and gave me a soothing smile. “When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.”

Oh no! I wasn’t going to be tricked this time. He’d made me look like an idiot too many times with his obscure historical quotes, “What famous philosopher said that?”

Hogarth smiled at me, “Nanny McPhee.”

“Huh?”

 

Coaches (Agile, Lean, Business) are like Nanny McPhee and Businesses are like the Ground Hog Day movie.

Last week I had the privilege to attend the SFAgile2012 “Unconference” in San Francisco. It was a great experience and I am still processing everything that I took in. In the coming weeks I hope to write about more of my observations and personal discoveries, like being caught in the middle of converging philosophies, the agile survival guide for functional managers, the need for a new definition of agile (who knew manifesto was such a highly charged word), or even a humorous look at the word fachidiot.

Right now though, I want to tie together two threads I experienced at SFAgile2012.

Hackerpenuer – or the Ground Hog Effect

The first was Joshua Kerievsky’s (@JoshuaKerievsky) closing keynote at the conference. One of the attendees recorded his keynote and I think it is very much worth watching. No matter what your preferred methodology is, I believe Josh’s points will resonate with you. And his use of the movie “Ground Hog” day to illustrate both the problems with learning and the benefits of learning from mistakes was superb. He extended the ongoing theme of the conference, that of the cultural hacker.

Part 1- http://youtu.be/29WekhL_c44  Part 2- http://youtu.be/_ArGvKpJI8k

His use of the movie was very telling and I can’t begin to cover everything. One of the powerful take aways I had was in the power of iteration. We watch as Phil relives the same day over and over again. We watch as someone is given the chance to “if you could do it all over again, would you do it differently.” Phil could, because his iterations were short and he remembered what happened the last time he was able to make changes and experiment.

What if your iteration is nine weeks long and you don’t do integration until week seven*? That means you have to go seven weeks between each time you get to effect a change. And then it’s a lot like the theory of reincarnation. Yes, you get to live life again, only you don’t remember the last  life, so you just might make the mistakes again.

*Yes, we know it’s a bad idea to wait so long for integration testing. It works for this example though.

What’s our Goal? – Mission – Values – Purpose

The second thread was one that I was unable to put words to during the conference. It was not until after, when reading Olaf Lewitz’s (@olaflewitz) Twitter profile, that I was able to put words to the thread. Even now, I find myself struggling with words I am happy with. For now, our Goal through Mission, Value, Purpose (MVP, yes I planned that) will have to do.

Olaf’s Twitter profile reads: “Linchpin. @agile42 Coach. When you need me, but do not want me, I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go. (NannyMcPhee)”

Nanny McPhee is another movie, one in which Emma Thompson plays a character much like Mary Poppins. If you remove all the sugar and spice and everything nice and replace it with warts and boils and in your face honesty. McPhee could be the living embodiment of what happens when an organization embraces Agile/Lean methods. It is often said that Agile is a great tool for revealing the warts in your organization. And for those that stick with it, they find that the warts are not really that big  compared to the beauty of effectiveness they can achieve.

Nanny McPhee is also the perfect coach. She doesn’t try and change you. She creates opportunities for you to see change, she asks you the questions you are asking yourself, and she helps you to see the change you want to make. She doesn’t lead a horse to water, she asks the horse “Where is the water?” (After sneaking up on the horse in his stall and apologizing that the door was open.)

This brings to the interesting question. One I am still not sure I can even put properly into words. For want of something I’ll just settle for “Who are we, what do we do, what is our purpose (Hmm WWW. I think MVP is better). Really though I think the right question is, “What is my goal?”

We already have an idea of Olaf’s purpose through his espousing the McPhee mantra.

Simon Marcus, the CTO of The Library Corporation, summed it up as “Continuous learning and respect for others.”

Joshua Kerievsky’s (@JoshuaKerievsky), following his Hackerpenuer theme has “Hacking, Hutzpah, Happiness, Hustle, and Health.” (Yes, he hacked Chutzpah to make it work).

Illan Goldstein (@iagile), an Asutralian Agilist, responded to my own goal statement with “To constantly improve and to never go backwards.”

Which brings me to my goal. What is one sentence I can use to sum up my goal as a program manager, coach, facilitator, <insert title here>? For me, I say “My goal is to spend every day trying to make myself obsolete.”

This is not my personal life goal (my wife would object). This is my goal in working with teams and a company. After a twittersation (conversaion on twitter) with  @iagile and some others, I realize that even something so simple can lead to confusion. Words are amazing.

My thoughts are that if I am always trying to make myself obsolete for my current team/org, then I am working to better myself, better the team, empower the team and improve the value stream. It is almost certainly an unattainable goal and I think that is just fine. It is not the goal that matters, it is the journey that matters.

So with two popular moves, we see answers to change, the value of short iterations, the value of revealing the warts, and some clues to what is our purpose as coaches.

 

> I will always strive to not be needed. If I ever am not needed, I will be filled with joy and contentment for the world will surely be a much better place. <

 

Joel Bancroft-Connors

The Gorilla Talker

Want me to talk to your gorilla? Send me an email, jbancroftconnors@gmail.com

The Gorilla always sits in the front row

I stuck my head into the room to cast a quick glance around. The presentations wouldn’t start for another hour and the room was empty of all save some facilities people setting up the AV. Smiling, I ducked through the doorway and made for the best seat in the house. The middle of the back row.

I merrily pulled out my laptop, chortling at my luck.

“You do know that they don’t expect more than fifty people and this room can hold one hundred?”

Good seat luck, bad gorilla luck, guess you can’t win them all.

With a deep sigh I looked up from my computer. Hogarth was taking up a good two spaces at the front row center. Half marveling at how I could have missed an 800 pound gorilla and fully dreading just what was about to transpire I opened my mouth. “I know that, but if I didn’t get here early, the back row would have been all filled.”

Hogarth gave a kind of coughing grunt. If I had to guess I would have said it sounded a lot like those fake coughs people give, while they say some other message. Usually an unkind message. “There’s no one in the front row yet, why don’t you sit up here?”

“This isn’t a Springsteen concert, Hogarth, there is no way I want to sit in the front row.” I gave a vague wave towards my gorilla and the whole front row. “What if these presentations are boring? Anyway, I’m so busy I need to keep an eye on email and it would be rude for me to not be paying attention from the front row. And what if I need to leave?”

Hogarth raised an eyebrow, his expression all but saying, “Seriously?” Recovering from that, he leaned back in his chair, crossed his hands over his chest and fixed me with his ‘gaze of learning.’ “Let me get this straight. You call yourself a radical change agent. You espouse open trust and honesty in the team. You believe in free flow of communication.”  Hogarth narrowed his eyes, “And you don’t want to sit in the front rom because you might be bored?”

When an 800 pound gorilla says it like that, it really does sound bad.

Why are we afraid of the front row?

Go to any training, any “all hands” or even any conference (the ones people want to really be at) and odds are better than even that the back row or the middle row will fill up well before the front row does. It’s practically a law of business, right up there with “buy low, sell high.”

I never really thought about the phenomenon until today. I used to be part of the back row posse. I’d sit back there so no one could look over my shoulder at what I was doing on my computer (which was often usually nothing to do with what was going on in the meeting.) I stopped sitting in the back row when I made my own personal discoveries about laptops in meetings (I can see you gorilla). Not being distracted by my computer, I started moving closer and closer to the front, realizing that it was much more engaging and effective to be there and be involved. These days I rarely sit more than three rows back and most of the time I go right for the front row.

I’m currently attending SFAgile2012 . This is not a conference for agile/lean beginners. There is no “Intro to Agile” or primers to guide you. If you don’t already know and believe in agile/lean then this is not the place for you. These are the men and women who live and breath the principles of trust, honesty and openness.

So imagine my surprise when the meeting rooms filled up and the weight of the room was decidedly canted to the rear. I was late to one session and it wasn’t a problem at all, plenty of room left. In the front row. I was more than a little perplexed. Wasn’t this a conference of change agents? Challenge assumptions, innovate, adapt, improve all being watch words of the day.

So never being one to shirk from talking to the gorilla in the room, I took an opportunity to chat with a couple of other attendees on the subject. It was an interesting insight into the human psyche. As much as agile and lean push the envelope, we are still human beings and we are not perfect. “What if I don’t like the session, I’m trapped because I can’t leave without being rude.” “Maybe I want to hide and not be the focus.” I don’t want to block the view of those farther back.”

Fascinating. Even we who are leading the charge for innovative change find ourselves wrapped up in our all too human foibles. We don’t want to hurt the feelings of a presenter, so you sit where you can easily slip out. If we’re being honest and open, then we vote with our feet. If the session isn’t to your taste, then leave. Having done my fair share of presentations, I can tell you that the presenter will notice if you slip out from the back row as much as front row. As Agilist (Leanists?) we should be open and unafraid of “being the focus.”

I firmly believe the back row should be the last row to fill up. And as agile/lean practitioners, we should be setting the example of good engagement.

I’ll save you a seat at the front.